NFL Stars Starting to Align for Marriage Equality
The roughest and the toughest, the meanest and manliest: NFL players have begun to speak up in favor of granting gay and lesbian families equal marriage rights.
Brendon Ayanbadejo, linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, authored an article favoring marriage equality that appeared at the Huffington Post last April 23.
Wrote Ayanbadejo, "First and foremost, church and state are supposed to be completely separated when it comes to the rule of law in the United States. So the religious argument that God meant for only man and woman to be together has no bearing here!
"America is not Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, or any other religion that is out there. And the pantheon of gods can attest that there are hundreds of them. We are a secular capitalistic democracy. That’s it."
Added the linebacker, "If Britney Spears can party it up in Vegas with one of her boys and go get married on a whim and annul her marriage the next day, why can’t a loving same sex couple tie the knot?
"How could our society grant more rights to a heterosexual one night stand wedding in Vegas than a gay couple that has been together for 3, 5, 10 years of true love?"
Noted the player, "The divorce rate in America is currently 50%. I am willing to bet that same sex marriages have a higher success rate than heterosexual marriages."
Ayanbadejo compared the progress of the GLBT equality movement to historical struggles for equality from racial minorities and women, noting that many legal disparities have been overcome already.
He then made a prediction for the future. "I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as every one else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we really free?"
A Sept. 30 article posted at Canal Street Chronicles reported that another NFL player, the New Orleans Saints’ defensive captain Scott Fujita, offered his own take on the issue.
Fujita, who was quoted from a Sept. 29 article that appeared at The Nation, took note of Ayanbadejo’s prognostication, saying, "I hope he’s right in his prediction, and I hope even more that it doesn’t take that long.
"People could look at this issue without blinders on... the blinders imposed by their church, their parents, their friends or, in our case, their coaches and locker rooms."
Added Fujita, "I wish they would realize that it’s not a religion issue. It’s not a government issue. It’s not even a gay/straight issue or a question of your manhood.
"It’s a human issue. And until more people see that, we’re stuck arguing with people who don’t have an argument."
The article that appeared at The Nation also investigated the sources of anti-gay sentiment among pro athletes, quoting Dave Meggyesy, himself previously an NFL pro, as identifying some central sources for homophobia among football players.
"Male culture, fear of weakness, being different," said Meggyesy.
"Women being seen as second-class humans, and the association of homosexuality with the feminine or woman and weakness."
Added the former player, "Fear of their own bisexual or homosexual feelings, and often times confusing feelings of affection and sexual feelings."
But there are other deep wellsprings to anti-gay attitudes among the athletic elite, the article reported, revealing that an evangelical group called Athletes in Action, which is affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Both organizations are anti-gay; the article quoted author Tom Krattenmaker, author of a soon-to-be published account of evangelical efforts to reach out to pro athletes, as saying, "Typically half the teams’ chaplains come from AIA.
"Like its Campus Crusade for Christ parent organization, AIA has not been a friend to gays," Krattenmaker went on. "Campus Crusade, in fact, explicitly states on job applications that homosexuals are not welcome on staff."
The article delved deeper into the topic, noting that in its early days, American football was associated with a movement to produce strong, virile--and Christian--warriors who would expand the nation’s influence worldwide.
That early influence, the article indicated, resonates today in the pro football world.